Autumn 2005

John Wesley visits Sheerness, Wednesday 16th December 1768: “In the dock adjoining to the fort there are six old men-o’-war. These are divided into small tenements, forty, fifty or sixty in a ship, with little chimneys and windows; and each of these contains a family. In one of them where we called, a man and his wife and six little children lived. And yet all the ship was sweet and tolerably clean; sweeter than most sailing ships I have been in.”

THE EIMER PIANO TRIO This outstanding young ensemble will open our second season on Friday, 14th October 2005 at 7.45 pm with a typically enticing programme. Two classical masterpieces of the repertoire, Haydn’s magnificent E flat major Trio (No 30) and Dvorák’s delightful and deservedly popular Dumky Trio, share the concert with the short Notturno in E flat by Schubert, a single concert piece of great beauty, and to mark the centenary of his birth, the 1962 Piano Trio by Alan Rawsthorne, whose anniversary has been celebrated by many Festivals and concert series through the year. The Rawsthorne is marked by vigorous counterpoint, exciting rhythms, and a Theme and Variations movement based on a hauntingly lovely, almost medieval-like tune. The work ends in a peaceful, valedictory A major.

The Eimer Trio have played together since their student days, and won prizes at international competitions, as well as being frequent visitors to Festivals and Music Clubs both as an ensemble and as soloists. Nicola Eimer will be featured as piano soloist at next year’s prestigious Presteigne Festival, and in September this year performs Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto at St John’s, Smith Square, London, with the London Soloists Chamber Orchestra and conductor David Josefowitz. Cellist Emma Denton and violinist Matthew Denton have also featured as soloists at concerts in Britain and abroad, including the Three Choirs Festival. Their first appearance at the Brighton Festival, in a programme of Haydn Trios, led to immediate invitations to return, and after winning the Bäreneiter Prize at the 2002 ARD Piano Trio Competition in Munich, they were immediately invited to perform at the Mecklenburg Festival in NW
Germany in 2004.

 

 

Alan Rawsthorne (1905-71) The young Schubert (1797-1828) Antonín Dvorák (1841-1904)

 

THE YEAR OF THE SEA 2005 has been officially designated “The Year of the Sea” (the bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar providing the “hook” for it), and the second concert in our 2005/06 season is a collaboration with Sittingbourne Community College, with the College providing the speakers, in an evening of song, verse and prose. SCC have thrown themselves with their usual whole-hearted enthusiasm into this project, which we hope may reach out to some who might otherwise be doubtful about attending a classical concert.

Our brochure gives an idea of the vocal content, so here’s a little about the spoken side. The first half ranges from Whitman’s heroic sea-poetry and Hardy’s Lines on the loss of the Titanic, taking in Matthew Arnold’s magnificent Dover Beach before moving into the realms of fantasy with Tennyson’s The Kraken, Full Fathom Five from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and verses from that beautifully-written (if now slightly unfashionable) poem The Forsaken Merman, again by Arnold. The second half stays closer to home, with Nightfall by Ronald Washington (I assume, a local writer), and a humorous saga by one ‘Marlin Spike’, about taking a barge-load of bricks from Milton Creek to Barkingside. We touch on some personal history, with a short letter from my grandfather, who, as a lad, had to leave school and help his father on board ship, after his mother died. At the age of 15 he brings the barge in by himself to Erith, as his father is taken ill on board and dies the next day. The short letter, to his big sister Ada, asks for help and advice.

After a reference to local boat-building we pass rapidly—and out of time sequence—via Dunkirk, to Samuel Pepys’ dismay at the Dutch sinking of our warships in the Medway, after burning the garrison town of Sheerness. Then on to Trafalgar, a tribute to our Royal and Merchant Navies, and via Betjeman’s Seascape to Tennyson’s eloquent and spiritual poem Crossing the Bar.

The music also ranges widely, from art-songs by Fauré, Duparc, Borodin and Elgar (two favourites from his Sea Pictures) to popular parlour songs—Sea Fever (Ireland), Trade Winds (Keel), and Drake’s Drum (Stanford). We touch on Sullivan (When I was a lad, or Ruler of the Queen’s Navee, from HMS Pinafore), Haydn (his swashbuckling tribute to the British sailor, in Sailor’s Song) and the moving Tom Bowling, by Dibdin. This song, with its apt nautical metaphors, has been popular since it was written, in 1789. Sir Henry Wood incorporated it into his Fantasia on British Sea-songs, as a centenary Trafalgar tribute, and it has been played at the Last Night of the Proms ever since; so it’s particularly apt that we should include it in this concert. Other music includes a beautiful setting by Britten of the traditional song Sail on, sail on—one of Thomas Moore’s Irish Melodies. And perhaps the most moving of all, a haunting folksong from Norfolk, The Captain’s Apprentice, arranged by Vaughan Williams, where a conscience-stricken captain recounts the tragic tale of his young workhouse apprentice.

A considerable mixture, then, and we hope you will find something to please. We’re delighted to welcome for this event the husband-and-wife duo of mezzo-soprano Claire-Louise Lucas and composer-pianist Jonathan Darnborough, who have recently recorded Elgar’s Sea Pictures (original version) for an Elgar Society commercial CD, and Tony Eldridge (baritone), who is well-known in Kent particularly for his solos with the Canterbury Chamber Choir (of which he is Chairman), most recently in Handel’s Dixit Dominus at the Presteigne Festival.. MMcC
Tony Eldridge at Aldeburgh Claire-Louise Lucas and Jonathan Darnborough

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PHILIP COWLIN We are deeply sorry to announce that the composer Philip Cowlin died in August, after a long illness. He was writing a short new piece for our February concert, for performance by John Turner (recorder) and Craig Ogden (guitar), and we are hoping that there is enough of the sketch for it to be possible for the work to be completed. If so, we will be able to offer the performance as a tribute to his memory. Mr Cowlin lived in Margate, and was working on the music even while he was in hospital. Our deepest sympathy goes out to his family.

FEEDBACK Remember, we are very pleased (hopefully!) to receive feedback from members, regarding repertoire, artists, locations and other matters. Apparently it seems that SCC was your preferred location last season. Tunstall Church was “magical” according to some, though others had problems over sightlines and parking. We feel that we haven’t quite got refreshment provision sorted as yet, but we are working on it. The trouble is that each location has a different set of problems to get organised, and now, of course, the licensing laws have changed as well. Hot drinks are not possible to provide—we don’t have the facilities or staff. Not everyone wants alcoholic beverages. Again, feedback is useful. And do tell us if there is something you have particularly enjoyed—positive comments are also useful!

PROFILE: MILES ATWELL (Communications)

Miles has been a loyal and essential member of the Committee from the very start, and is a very busy teacher and performer – he performs in various ensembles as far afield as Faversham and Dover, including a string quartet and a piano trio (with our good friend Don Goodsell, who is a moving spirit behind the Oare String Orchestra. His work, as our Communications member, has involved him in setting up our website (see below), and also acting as our Making Music Representative, which is a particularly useful contact for us. He says of himself (with characteristic modesty):

“As your Communications representative, I was amused at our inaugural meeting, when our chairman Peter Morgan introduced me as Miles Attwell, a “Military Musician”. That ten years seemed like ancient history, half a lifetime ago, though it did have a formative influence on lots that has followed. I left the Royal Marines Band to study Music and Theology at Exeter University in 1969.

Pat and I then moved to Guernsey with our three young children, where I was appointed Director of Music at Elizabeth College for 25 years. The experience in the services proved invaluable in seeking to establish an orchestral tradition where none had existed before. As in this area, it is hard for an isolated school to develop a good orchestra, so I also worked with musicians, parents and music lovers outside the College to develop an island-wide musical environment.

A heart bypass operation caused me to leave teaching, and work on the computers in one of Guernsey’s many banks for six years. Then I retired (again) and we returned to the UK in 2001, and I work part time for Kent Music School as a peripatetic violin/viola teacher. This interest in computing has enabled me (with some initial difficulty I must say) to set up the Society’s web site www.sittingbournemusicsociety.org.uk which we hope will inform you and widen the appeal of our concerts within the area.”

MEMBERSHIP RENEWALS / NEWSLETTERS Can we remind those of you who receive this Newsletter but have not yet renewed your membership that you’d be very welcome to do so? We’re very keen to increase our membership, naturally, which will enable us to provide the best service we can. Similarly, those who wish to receive the Newsletter only but haven’t renewed this subscription can do so for a cost of only £5. Members’ Newsletters after this one will, of course, only to go to Members and Newsletter Subscribers. If you have any friends who might be interested to join us, do try and persuade them to come along and participate in what is proving to be a successful and exciting venture.

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING Our first Annual General Meeting was held on 11th July at the Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne, and went very smoothly. There were reports from the Chairman and Secretary, and the essential business of electing officers of the Society. In the event, there being no further nominations, the present Committee was (should that be were?) elected to continue, namely:
Chairman: Peter Morgan / Secretary: Julie Burns / Treasurer: David Burns / Membership Secretary: Jeane Holmes / Communications: Miles Attwell / Artistic Director: John McCabe / Artistic Administrator: Monica McCabe. To conclude the occasion, we were given a delightful performance of Haydn’s Lark Quartet in D, Op 64 No 5, by a young ensemble from the Kent Music School, the D’Avanzo String Quartet.

SPONSORSHIP Running a concert series is an expensive business. Apart from artists’ fees, we have hall charges, piano hire and tuning, insurance, printing, special purchases (we now have our own heavy-duty music stands, and pleasant, though inexpensive, chamber-music lighting, as well as glasses—fortunately two committee members have cellars). There are also smaller, though considerable, costs of stationery and postage. We’re grateful for the continued input from Swale Borough Council, and this year we are also glad to have the help of several Composer Trusts. Chasing money is going to be a major preoccupation for the Sponsorship Sub-Committee, but nevertheless we do have some major ideas that we hope to find money for in future seasons.

TICKET OUTLETS We are very grateful to The Rainham Bookshop, The Barley Mow (Faversham), B A Fitch Newsagents (Sheerness) and Sittingbourne’s own Swade Music (Roman Square) for kindly acting as ticket sales outlets for us. Tickets are available approximately one month before each concert. Postal sales can be made through Mrs Jenifer Blenard, 149 Athelstan Road, Faversham, Kent ME13 8QW. Please send a cheque made out to “The Sittingbourne Music Society”, and a stamped, addressed envelope. Please note: we are unable currently to deal with telephone bookings, and cheques should not be made out to inviduals.

NEWSLETTERS BY E-MAIL: Although we have tried, the idea of distributing Newsletter by e-mail hasn’t worked as well as we’d hoped. The problems are that there was only a small number of people taking up this offer, and that there are several different programmes which would be needed to do so, and the time involved in making several different versions of the Newsletter simply isn’t available – it already takes several days to compile, write, check and print it. We’re sorry about this, but other priorities take precedence.

CONCERTS IN THE AREA We would like to draw your attention to some other local concerts:
Oare String Orchestra Saturday 24th September 2005 at the Alexander Centre, Faversham: Britten’s Serenade for tenor, horn and strings, plus works by Berkeley, Mozart, Parry and Canadian composer Robert Rival’s prize-winning work Red Moonrise over Lac Rhéaume—conductor Peter Aviss.

Sittingbourne Orpheus Choral Society Advance notice of their Christmas concert: Saturday 17th December, at the Swallows Leisure Centre, Sittingbourne, conducted by Michael Downes. The concert includes Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on Christmas Carols, Finzi’s masterly In Terra Pax, and carols.

Canterbury Chamber Choir On Saturday October 15th, George Vass’s innovative choir celebrates its 10th anniversary with a concert at St George and St Martin Church, Wye at 7.30 pm—programme to include works by Bach, Gorecki, Macmillan and Fauré’s Requiem – this concert is part of the Canterbury Festival.

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